During the last ice age, the sea level was much lower. There was no North Sea to separate Holland from England. Mammoths, sabretooths, and Neanderthals roamed this cold tundra, and all of them left their marks.
The southern edge of the mighty Scandinavian glaciers was right here, in our region just east of Amsterdam. Pushing and melting, they deposited moraine, boulders and gravel. Forming the range of low hills that, on a cycling trip, will tell you that not all of Holland is as flat as you probably thought.
Later in time, modern people as well came this way. But always on the move, hunting, fishing and gathering.
It's only when climate got milder, less than 10.000 years ago, that permanent occupation, and eventually agriculture became possible. The many burial mounds you'll see on the heather plains and in the woods date from the bronze age (2000-800 BC).
Already in those days men started changing the land. Chopping down the dense woods, gradually forming the wide open heather plains we know today.
Ever since the ice age, the sea level has been rising. Flooding the lower part of our region.
Dunes closed of the sea, and the rivers brought fresh water, allowing peat plants to grow. An immense bog peat developed, covered with a dense swamp forest. Permanent human occupation was hardly possible here. Only started some 1000 years ago, when people began to drain and colonise the wilderness.
But the higher parts of our region, that had been formed by the Ice Ages, would remain more densely populated over the millennia. With only a dramatic dip later, after the fall of the Roman Empire.
The border of the Roman Empire was established just south, not far away, after the Romans had been defeated by the Germans in the Varus-battle (9 AD). A fortified border along the Rhine, but by no means an iron curtain. There was a lot of commerce and (generally) peaceful contact with our region.
And in all periods, our river Vecht was an important north-south route for trade and military purposes (Romans, Vikings).
On a full day bike trip it is possible to see clear clues and remains of this millennia long history.
We can cycle by the small, but interesting geological museum (site in Dutch). It is located right in the middle of heather plains and prehistoric burial places.